Yesterday, President Obama said that the beginning of the new General Motors would take “a painful toll on many Americans.”The question is, which Americans?The politicians and bureaucrats in Washington aren’t feeling any pain.The last I checked, they were all still getting paid.The senior executives running General Motors, many of whom helped get us in this mess in the first place, still have jobs.The people who are going to suffer are the 21,000 auto workers who are going to lose their jobs this next year and 2,100 dealers who are being let go from General Motors and their employees—these are the people who are stressing out, will soon be unable to pay their bills and who will be facing foreclosure on their homes.And let’s not forget the American tax payers who are going to have to foot the bill for all of these shenanigans.
There’s something very un-American about this picture.The people who are going to do all the suffering didn’t create the mess and they’ve have had no say in what’s going to happen—they’re victims of decades of bad decisions made by senior management—the people who still have jobs.Americans don’t mind sacrificing as long as it leads to something.However, if you take a close look at the rhetoric, it quickly becomes apparent that the success of the new GM is anything but a done deal. President Obama said yesterday that the painful restructuring “…will give the iconic American company a chance to rise again.”All this suffering and, in the president’s own words, GM only has a “chance” to rise again. Fritz Henderson, the GM president and CEO referred to yesterday’s bankruptcy as a “defining moment” in remaking the company.He actually sounded a little too upbeat, like he was still trying to convince himself that the new GM had a future.Again, something’s not right here and all the wrong people are suffering and paying the price.
Instant TurnaroundNegative bosses who make nasty comments to belittle or suppress those who work for them are a tremendous drain on the productivity of a business. The problem is that negative comments are hurtful and almost always ruin people’s days. When this occurs, it immediately sucks away people’s energy and now they are no longer able to apply their best effort toward doing their job. A friend of ours who is a manager recently told us that he receives at least one degrading email a month from one of his superiors. “When this happens,” he said, “I completely shut down for the rest of the day.” Let’s assume that 29 other employees received similar emails from that same person. If each of them responded by shutting down for a half-day, that’s 15 days of lost productivity each month all because of one thoughtless email! The message here is: If you have negative people working at your company, especially if they’re in supervisory or managerial positions, don’t ignore them. You need to find a way to get them rehabilitated or get rid of them because they’re a luxury you simply can’t afford.
Uh-oh? Wait! What if I’m the negative boss? In that case, let’s take a look at the facts. There isn’t one research study that shows how being a negative boss has a positive impact on productivity and the bottom line. In fact, being a negative boss has the exact opposite effect: It increases turnover, absenteeism, employee theft, the number of sick days taken while it great decreases morale and productivity. In their book, The Invisible Employee, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton estimate the cost of employee turnover alone in America to be 1.7 trillion dollars annually. So, if you insist on being a negative boss, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot—your performance review takes a big hit because your employees aren’t working anywhere near their potential.
So what’s the secret for getting employees to work up to their potential? That’s why we wrote Instant Turnaround! We wanted to show managers at all levels how to capitalize on something we learned nearly a century ago from the Hawthorne Studies, but have chosen to ignore: The simple act of paying positive to people has the dominant impact on their productivity. This means that the better you treat people, the harder they’ll work. If you want to get people excited about coming to work and working hard all you need to do are the following simple things consistently and well:
Be yourself and let the real you shine through. There’s no room for arrogance if you expect to get your employees excited about working hard. Arrogance breeds mistrust and people don’t work hard for bosses they don’t trust.
Say “thank you” often. People absolutely love to work hard when their efforts are appreciated. On the other hand, they slow down quickly if they feel they’re being taken for granted.
Treat people like they really are your most important resource. Ask their opinion on things, actively listen to what they have to say and take appropriate action when necessary. In other words, let them know that you really do care about them.
Be nice. Say or do something that brightens the day of each person you come into contact with—smile, greet them by name or compliment them about something they’ve done. Being nice is what makes people like you and they have to like you before they’ll get excited about working hard for you.
Encourage your employees to be themselves and express their uniqueness—this encourages them to turn their work into fun. Fun is extremely important because it releases excitement which enables people work even harder. There can be no sustained hard work without excitement.
Spend lots of time out on the front lines working right alongside your employees. This enables you to keep your finger on the pulse of the business and it sends a very clear message to front line employees that you respect them and what they do.
So, if ou’re a negative boss or if you have a team, department or sales force that’s underachieving, give these six bullet points a sincere try. You’ll be amazed at the speed of the turnaround and how quickly your employees step up to make you look good as their boss.
In their book, The Invisible Employee, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton estimate the cost of employee turnover in America to be 1.7 trillion dollars annually. That’s a huge drain on American businesses. They also cite studies which point out that the biggest single reason people quit their jobs is the behavior of their immediate bosses–they were either abusive, didn’t care about them, didn’t listen, didn’t notice or appreciate what they did or were only out for themselves. Believe it or not, there’s good news in all of this. If American businesses would simply teach their supervisors and managers how to interact more positively with the people who work for them, they could reclaim the lion’s share of that 1.7 trillion dollars. We’re talking about basic behaviors like being nice instead of nasty or indifferent, noticing the things employees do and saying thank you. These behaviors don’t sound all that profound, but if the majority of supervisors and managers in America effectively executed these behaviors, it would fatten the bottom lines of American businesses by more than a trillion dollars–now that is profound.
When it comes to impacting people’s lives, nothing is more powerful than kindness. As Albert Schwietzer once said: “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hostility to evaporate.” Leo Buscaglia put it this way: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, and honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Henry James echoed these sentiments when he said: “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” Kind acts are what we were put on this planet to do. They require very little effort, but they have the power to change people’s lives. On top of that, kind acts have a homing quality; they always seem to find their way back to the person who performed them. Highly effective bosses have figured this out–kindness is a big reason for their success.
The secret to being an effective boss is to recognize that people intentionally regulate the amount of effort they put into their jobs based upon how they feel they’re being treated. If they feel they’re being treated well, they will become excited about giving their absolute best efforts which means they’ll work way beyond their job descriptions. If they feel their efforts are unappreciated they’ll pull back and do only what they have to do to keep their jobs. And, if they feel they’re being abused, they’ll either figure out some clever way to get even or they’ll look for a job somewhere else. The lesson here is that if you treat your people well–treat them with respect and show them you care–they’ll return the favor by making you look like a genius as their boss.
Negative bosses who make nasty comments to belittle or suppress those who work for them are a tremendous drain on the productivity of a business. The problem is that negative comments are hurtful and almost always ruin people’s days. When this occurs, it immediately sucks away people’s energy and now they are no longer able to apply their best effort toward doing their job. A friend of mine who is a manager recently told me that he receives at least one degrading email a month from one of his superiors. “When this happens,” he said, “I completely shut down for the rest of the day.” Let’s assume that 29 other employees received similar emails from that same person. If each of them responded by shutting down for a half-day, that’s 15 days of lost productivity each month all because of one thoughtless email! The message here is: If you have negative people working at your company, especially if they’re in supervisory or managerial positions, don’t ignore them. You need to find a way to get them rehabilitated or get rid of them because they’re a luxury you simply can’t afford.